The Business of The Social Network

Writing in Forbes, John Tamny says:

Due to Thiel’s delayed consumption of $500,000, billions of dollars of wealth are and will be created thanks to his relative parsimony. In that case, when readers hear economists say the rich should hand over their money to the government so that it can be spent, they should remember the wealth wrought by Facebook’s rise and how very stimulative the hoarding ways of the rich actually are.

The film can also be seen as an (again, unconscious) vision of how much entrepreneurs can accomplish without regulatory authorities impeding their progress. Early in the film, Zuckerberg runs afoul of the local political class -- the Harvard bureaucracy -- who are offended when he invents a website that allows users to rate one another’s attractiveness. Sorkin frames this episode as one of privacy invasion and crass misogyny (in reality, Zuckerberg’s site included images of both sexes; in the movie, it’s only women who are held up for inspection) and is clearly on the side of a Harvard committee that meets specifically to scold Zuckerberg.

But Zuckerberg dismisses the feckless finger-wagging of these clueless twerps, and the audience will too. On this and many other occasions, he is the smartest guy in the room. No one ever said business is about playing nice.

An even better scene later in the movie finds Zuckerberg’s business rivals, the Winklevoss twins, who have up to this point prided themselves on a code of self-reliance, abandoning their principles and begging for intervention at the office of then-Harvard president Larry Summers. Summers -- who is as rude as Zuckerberg in the film -- gives them the brush-off, telling them that their disputes aren’t worthy of his time and that they should fight their own battles.

Sorkin may not realize this, but if his beloved liberal president and associated business-harassers and job-killers of The West Wing had such a hands-off attitude toward the corporations they see as evil, the creation of wealth and jobs in this country would be as fast-paced and exciting as The Social Network.